Supply Chain Security

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Supply Chain Attacks Escalate

As the adage says, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. So not surprisingly, cybercriminals have migrated to supply chain security to carry out cyber-attacks. And they’re doing so in increasing numbers. Supply chain attacks, for instance, increased 42% in the first quarter of 2021 alone.

Source: ENISA

Rather than launching an assault on one network, hackers find weak links elsewhere with the notion of achieving a one-to-many scale attack. The tactic seeks to exploit an organization with lesser security to get the ball rolling. By breaching that organization, hackers can move laterally into other companies. Simply put, the technique works as more than 82% of organizations suffered a data breach during the last year stemming from cybersecurity weaknesses in the supply chain (BlueVoyant).

The approach works particularly well when a larger company serving smaller companies suffers the breach. Attackers, for example, can migrate to their customers to capture a major coup and witness the successful attacks on the Colonial Pipeline, SolarWinds, Kaseya, and Microsoft Exchange.

Supply Chain Security Risks

The first caveat with cyber supply chain risks is that an attack doesn’t have to start with a cyber breach. Cybercriminals can exploit lapses in physical security to launch attacks. They might also exploit a cyber vulnerability to gain access to a physical location by the same token.

Supply chains often rely on four or more tiers of suppliers. Owing to that potential complexity, any number of risks present themselves:

  • Improper data protection, including security practices, location, compliance, visibility, and governance
  • IoT compromise
  • Third-party service providers with physical or virtual access to information systems, code, or intellectual property
  • Lower-tier providers with poor security practices, including physical security that leaves devices open to tampering
  • Compromised software or hardware purchased from suppliers – IoT devices, for instance, often lack fundamental security features like encryption
  • Security vulnerabilities in supply chain management or supplier system software
  • Counterfeit or pirated hardware that may have embedded malware (only 3-5% of cargo coming into the U.S. gets examined for authenticity)
  • Third-party data storage or data aggregators
  • Cloud access mismanagement

As you can see, supply chain attacks take any number of forms covering physical and virtual assets as well as credentials and vendor accounts.

Best Practices to Reduce Your Risks

Best practices start with this simple understanding – a breach will happen. So, you have to plan for the data breach and plan for business continuity and disaster recovery.

Apart from that, understand no single IT solution will cut it. You’ll need a multifaceted, layered security approach. That layered approach should include these best practice considerations:

  1. Vulnerability Scans: Start by identifying current security concerns with a vulnerability assessment. That assessment should identify attack points so you can fix bad data configurations, poor password policies, endpoint security, IT infrastructure issues, etc.
  2. Digital Transformation: Digitize manual processes in your operations. Doing so opens the door for more secure data movement internally with your environment and externally with supply chain partners. With digitization, you can deploy variables that support security, like encryption, for example.  You’ll also gain access tokenization, data loss prevention, file access monitoring and alerts, and more.
  3. Cyber Awareness Training: The better informed your employees and your supply chain employees are regarding phishing scams, the more secure your supply chain will be. If your partners lack a cyber awareness training program, give them access to yours to help educate them on the dangers of cyber-attacks and what to look for.
  4. Data Protection: Deploy tools to identify and encrypt files and databases with sensitive information like financial data, customer information, and other proprietary records. Next, validate incoming connections in real-time along with multi-factor authentication.
  5. Least Privilege Access: Identity access and management (IAM) is critical when sharing sensitive data across a supply chain network. Database monitoring and privileged user controls quickly identify potential issues. Because IAM and MFA represent core components of a zero-trust architecture, you should also consider deploying them to reduce risks along your supply chain substantially.
  6. Blockchain Platform: Once added to the ledger, blockchain prohibits data from manipulation to prevent fraud while monitoring product quality. Supply chain members can track materials and products from source to end customer or even the consumer. Blockchain affords the highest level of commercially available, tamper-resistant data protection.
  7. Prepare for the Worst: As mentioned, assume you’ll get breached. That means having an incident response plan in place to mitigate your risk and control any incident quickly. But don’t stop there. Train individuals in the program on their role in a breach and conduct mock data breaches to evaluate your plan.
  8. Third-Party Risk Assessment: Get to know your supply chain suppliers. Incorporate security requirements into every RFP and contract. Equally important, identify who owns the third-party security risk. After a vendor enters your supply chain, have your security team assess vulnerabilities and security. But don’t stop there. Implement other controls to protect your organization:
    1. Control component purchases
    2. Inspect all parts before acceptance
    3. Obtain source code for software
    4. Establish policies for vendors, including access by service vendors
    5. Ensure that software and hardware include a secure booting process that looks for authentication codes
    6. Establish programs that capture “as-built” component identification data and link the component to sourcing information

Need Help Securing Your Supply Chain?

As a managed IT services provider, we focus our energies on helping small to medium-sized organizations with IT solutions to increase operational efficiencies. We take a layered approach to security that ensures our clients have multiple points of protection to virtually eliminate the prospects of a security breach.

If you’re interested in talking with a cybersecurity company near you that can help lock down your supply chain security dynamics, get in touch. We’ll conduct a vulnerability assessment and assemble an action plan that will drive your IT success.

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